Sometimes a certain dish calls out to you, maybe prompted by a picture, a season, a memory, a craving, a passing aroma. In paging through the recipes in this book one thing I really wanted to make was a barbecued beef sandwich that would taste like one from this place. (True to its old-school quirkiness, it appears to have no functioning web site and yet its Facebook page links you to russellsbarbeque.com which is NOT a real website at all). My first memory of eating at a restaurant is here and it’s about as evocative a place as I know. Even the sign makes me hungry and nostalgic. And don’t get me started on the smell. I think everyone has a place like this living deep in their memory: a place as far from fancy as it gets, where the food comes on paper plates and the tables have oilcloth covers. And yet for kids, to go there was a treat on par with no less than KiddieLand (the promise of which could make me, literally, do anything as a child) or maybe even Dispensa’s Castle of Toys and grownups probably didn’t mind a night out that didn’t break the bank. And it hasn’t changed AT ALL. In fact when I was there not long ago I swear there were women wearing housecoats and Dippity-Doo. True story.
Of all the recipes in this book for large-scale meat and pork grilling projects, this one promised to get me closest to my personal madeleine.
As you might expect, transforming a dense and formidable 5-6 lb. cut of meat into a luscious, spice-infused, ethereal, falling-apart beef experience, it’s gonna take a while. Two hours on the grill, then 2-3 in the oven. [Here’s a funny thing about blogging: when you are re-typing a recipe into a blog post you will often notice things you completely overlooked when cooking the dish. In this case it’s an additional 1 hour of resting time in the oven after the 2-3 hours of cooking. Huh.] Not a spontaneous dish but of course perfect to make ahead. (Once again I must point out that Cook’s has the oddest quirk about almost NEVER giving you make-ahead instructions. I don’t know why but this is yet another dish that practically begs for it and there is not one word of guidance. So I will tell you: cook either through the grilling part and finish in the oven the day of, or do both and refrigerate the meat and the sauce separately until about 30 minutes prior to serving. Then wrap the meat in foil and place in a 325-degree oven for about 25 minutes.)
The sauce was delicious but thin, which meant it didn’t cling to the meat the way I felt it was obligated to and that I desperately wanted it to. I did a little research on KC-style BBQ sauce and it does seem like it’s supposed to be thicker so I made have erred somewhere. Next time I might cook the sauce down a bit after I pour it off the cooked brisket.
But it smelled FANTASTIC and was absolutely delicious and deeply satisfying. Because it serves 8-10 I needed an occasion to serve it so I used the trifecta of birthdays that is my mother, daughter, and our dear friend Rita.
Happy birthday to these three demented unicorns!
Kansas City BBQ Brisket, from Master of the Grill (America's Test Kitchen)
- 1-1/2 tablespoons paprika
- 1-1/2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
- 1 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 tablespoon pepper
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 1 teaspoon granulated garlic
- 1 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 (5-6 lb.) beef brisket, flat cut, fat trimmed to 1/4"
- 2 cups wood chips
- 1 (13"x9") disposable aluminum roasting pan
- 1 cup ketchup
- 1 cup water
- 1 tablespoon molasses
- 1 tablespoon hot sauce
- Combine paprika, sugar, chili powder, pepper, salt, garlic and oinoin powder in bowl. Score brisket fat cap in 1/2" crosshatch pattern, being careful not to cut into meat. Rub brisket with spice mixture. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for 6-24 hours.
- Just before grilling, soak wood chips in wwater for 15 minutes, then drain. Using large piece of heavy-duty aluminum foi, wrap chips in 8"x4-1/2" foil packet. (Make sure chips do not poke holes in sides or bottom of packet). Cut 2 evenly-spaced 2" slits in top of packet. Unwrap brisket, pat dry with paper towels, and transfer to disposable pan.
- FOR A CHARCOAL GRILL: Open bottom vent halfway. LIght large chimney starter filled with charcoal briquettes (6 quarts). When top coals are partially covered with ash, pour evenly over half of grill. Place wood chip packet on coals. Set cooking grate in place, cover, and open lid vent halfway. Heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 5 minutes.
- FOR A GAS GRILL: Remove cooking grate and place wood chip packet directly on primary burner. Set cooking grate in place, turn all burners to high, cover and heat grill until hot and wood chips are smoking, about 15 minutes. Leave primary burner on high and turn off other burner(s). (Adjust primary burner as needed to maintain grill temperature around 350 degrees).
- Place pan on cooler side of grill. Cover (position lid vent over meat if using charcoal) and cook for 2 hours. During final 20 minutes of grilling, adjust oven rack to lower-middle position and heat oven to 300 degrees.
- Whisk ketchup, water, molasses, and hot sauce together in bowl, then pour over brisket. Cover pan tightly with foil and transfer to oven. Cook until brisket registers 195 degrees, 2-1/2 to 3 hours. Turn off heat and let brisket rest in oven for 1 hour.
- Transfer brisket to carving board. Skim fat from sauce. Cut brisket against grain into 1/4" thick slices. Serve with sauce.
I gobbled this up at Beatrix when l was in Chicago last month! I couldn't get it out of my…